Updated: Jan 3
Long Island, New York is known for many things. Its beautiful beaches, of course, Certain foods you can't get as good anywhere else. The Hamptons on the South shore, and, definitely, its wineries on the North shore (North Fork). What many don't realize is that Long Island is also known for it's many farms.
Like the wineries, the majority of farms are located "out East" as locals would say. Anything East of the middle of the Island, as locals refer to Long Island, is considered "out East" whether you are talking about the North shore (Orient Point) or South shore (Montauk Point, which is part of The Hamptons)
The farms are a big attraction year round but especially in the fall. People travel near and far to visit. Many will take the ferry from Connecticut, travelling from New England states to New London, CT to cross over to Orient Point, NY, the tip of the North Fork of Long Island. From there, they head west to go farm hopping. Others take the ferry from Bridgeport, CT to Port Jefferson, NY and then head out East to the Farms. From Port Jefferson, the trip could take up to two hours with traffic.
Often groups or families will make weekend trips out of it. Whatever you choose, you are sure to have fun and be able to purchase many healthy and fresh products and some not so healthy, but definitely delicious, desserts. (Why I don't eat meat)
Some farms, like May's Farm, set up small roadside stands where people can purchase fresh produce. I bought a box of plum tomatoes and my sister bought some eggplant, decorations for Halloween and tomatoes.
Sorry, no recipe. I didn't realize she was making it. I know she made the eggplant two different ways and split half and half in the dish.
There are also farms that allow you to pick your own. Apple picking and pumpkin picking in the fall draw large crowds. That's just some of the exciting farms, we have so many varieties of farms that there's something to interest everyone. Southold Bay Oysters is a locally run aquaculture farm. Lavender by the Bay has been New York's premier lavender farm. Stakey's Pumpkin Farm has hay rides, corn maze, hand & arm painting, country store and our flower house for you to enjoy!
Many of the larger farms have entertainment and play areas for the children. There are tractor drawn hayrides for the whole family and sometime pony rides for the kids. They often offer taste tests of various items such as pies made from their apples or sauce made from tomatoes and have products available for purchase. Many also have outdoor and/or indoor cafes where you can enjoy a meal made fresh along with locally brewed beer and/or Long Island wine.
Due to Covid-19, check with each farm before you arrive to understand their policies and what might or might not be offered at this time.
A lot of the farms offer fresh baked goods, and other homemade items for purchase. I can vouch that they are delicious. There's nothing like sinking your teeth into a warm apple and cinnamon treat, or for those who can eat corn, biting into a sweet cob of roasted corn with melted butter.
My son unloaded about 25 pounds of plum tomatoes that I bought. We are going to make fresh tomato sauce during the week. Not only will the sauce be delicious, but there's nothing like spending time with family, cooking, laughing and having fun. Check back for procedures, recipe, pictures and video.
The drive out East, approximately one to two hours, depending on how far out we go and traffic conditions, is generally relaxing and the scenery is pretty. It's a fun way to spend time with the family, which is exactly what my sister and I did. Most of the farms are kid and dog friendly, so people tend to bring the children and the fur babies.
Like the picture shows above, many people take day trips out to the farms and/or wineries and rent buses for groups. Yes, at certain areas, they require police to direct traffic and the farms generally hire security. It's safe and organized.
After our stop at the roadside farm, we headed further out east and stopped at a large farm holding a Garlic fest. (See video above)
The Garlic fest sold many varieties of garlic and guests where able to purchase meals of their choice to sample their delicious food seasoned with garlic. I could not chance eating anything due to my allergies, but my sister ordered a personalized pasta dish and an antipasto. She said it was exquisite.
Dogs love a day at the farms too. Here are pictures of some of the dogs we met yesterday, taken with permission from their owners. The little black pup is named Chanel and her mommy was very sweet at the first farm we stopped at. All the other fur babies where with lovely humans and everyone was enjoying the beautiful weather, the amazing aromas, the live music (see video above) and all the products available for purchase, including local beer and fresh lobster from a lobster truck. (see picture of brown truck below) Yes, not only do we have dirty water dogs (hot dog trucks) on Long Island, but we also have lobster trucks! There was a never ending line and it was getting late, so we decided against purchasing.
The farm offers everything garlic including, ready for this, GARLIC ICE CREAM as shown in the picture above! I thought it was a joke. It wasn't. We met a nice man on line for the pasta and later shared a table with him and his female friend, both lovely people, and he told us he had tried it. According to him, it was good. In this case, I'm glad my allergies prevented me. I'll stick to garlic in my sauce, on my vegetables, even on gluten free bread, but nope on the ice cream. My sister was intrigued. She says she's going to try it "next time."
There was fun and games for everybody, young and old. Live music (see video above) all afternoon. and even contests.
The entire experience of visiting the East end on the North Fork of Long Island is very enjoyable.
The best part of being locals is that I knew ways around the traffic. We took a few side and back roads and avoided long lines of stopped dead traffic. It's not like that all the time, but tends to be on the weekends and especially after 10 a.m. My advice, start early.
If you ever get a chance to visit Long Island in the fall, it's a lot of fun and you can purchase locally grown food and wines and take tours of some of the farms and wineries.
Of course, cooking with your purchases only enhances the enjoyment and prolongs the experience. If you are hesitant about cooking, please don't be. You can cook, promise.
I had gluten free, organic brown rice spaghetti (Tinkyada) with my son's fresh sauce tonight for dinner. Unfortunately, they can't grow 25 pounds of tomatoes at home, hence my trip out East to the farms for fresh tomatoes. Check back soon for procedure, recipe, pictures and videos of my son and I making fresh sauce from plum tomatoes.
Happy and safe farm hopping! Bon Appétit.